CT’s Lamont touts federal bill intended to chop drug costs, extend medical health insurance

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Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday said federal laws intended to scale back drug costs and extend health care subsidies will make a big impact on Connecticut residents.

The measure, called the Inflation Reduction Act, was scaled back after President Joe Biden’s Construct Back Higher laws stalled in Congress earlier this 12 months.

This version, which addresses health care costs and climate change, passed the Senate last weekend with united Democratic backing and unanimous Republican opposition, forcing Vice President Kamala Harris to forged the tie-breaking vote. It awaits a vote within the House of Representatives that’s expected to approve it and send it to Biden for his signature.

“We’ve a protracted strategy to go on inflation, but I believe the Inflation Reduction Act will make an enormous difference and is an enormous difference not only this 12 months but no less than the following few years,” Lamont said. “It’s a unprecedented opportunity to bring down your health care costs daily.”

The governor disputed the conclusions of a study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School that the laws would very barely increase inflation until 2024 and reduce inflation later. It called estimates “statistically indistinguishable from zero, thereby indicating low confidence that the laws may have any impact on inflation.”

Lamont said the measure, which Democrats tout as a serious election-year legislative victory, will cut health care costs and help reduce inflation. Nevertheless, several provisions don’t kick in for several years, exposing it to potential change in the longer term by a Republican majority in Congress.

Social Services Commissioner Deidre Gifford said Connecticut residents will profit from the laws in 3 ways. It requires Medicare to barter prices of 10 to twenty of the most costly pharmaceuticals, lowering costs for Medicare patients starting in 2026, she said.

PHrMA, the industry group, called the availability government price setting, resulting in policies that might “dictate prices and select winners and losers in the case of which diseases are more likely to see latest treatments.”

The laws caps out-of-pocket drug costs to $2,000 a 12 months, Gifford said. That policy will affect 19,000 Medicare patients in Connecticut starting in 2026. As well as, out-of-pocket costs for insulin are capped at $35 a month starting in 2025, affecting 35,000 Connecticut residents, she said.

And drug firms can be required, starting next 12 months, to pay a rebate to Medicare if the value of their drugs increases greater than the speed of inflation 12 months over 12 months, affecting 700,000 state residents, Gifford said.

As well as, the laws will extend for 3 years the premium subsidy for insurance purchased on the state’s medical health insurance exchange, or Access Health CT. The improved federal subsidy was set to run out at the tip of the 12 months, resulting in higher premiums.

The premium subsidy will save a household using the health exchange a mean $220 a month, Gifford said.

Without the pandemic rescue plan subsidies, 24,000 of the 104,000 people enrolled through Access Health would have been uninsured, Gifford said. Premiums are also capped as a percentage of household income.

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And subsidies can be prolonged to more residents based on income, providing $15 million a month in Connecticut, Gifford said.

Lamont criticized double-digit medical health insurance rate increases sought by several carriers.

“We are able to’t afford that. The state can’t afford that. Individuals can’t afford that,” the governor said.

The Connecticut Insurance Department has scheduled a hearing Monday and rate decisions can be handed down in early September.

Gerard O’Sullivan, director of consumer affairs on the Insurance Department, said the agency is conducting a “deep actuarial evaluation of the prices” submitted to the agency and future trends on which insurers are basing their prices, he said.

“We’re pushing back very hard against the insurance firms and the trend evaluation that they submitted to the department,” O’Sullivan said.

Stephen Singer could be reached at ssinger@courant.com.

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